We went to the first of two refresher prenatal classes last Wednesday night. It was in the same room at the hospital where we attended a whole series of classes for first time parents last time, where three and a half years ago we learnt how to fold nappies as well as feed, bath, burp, and birth the first of our little ones. I remember feeling quite terrified by the whole package back then. I sat there not being able to believe that I was about to start spending my life looking after something so fragile and tiny when the most I had ever done was to nervously hold three different babies on three different occasions, quickly handing them back to their mother’s after a polite, token effort.
But from the last lot of classes I also remember lots of laughs, fresh faces and girls wearing full faces of makeup. Optimism, nervous chatter and that wonderful knitted womb. This time around the main thing that made an impression on me was how incredibly exhausted and disheveled everyone looked, especially the dads who seemed to be dropping off in their seats, and if not dropping off then doing that tired stretching and scratching thing with red watery eyes, and repeated glances at the clock. 9.30 is now a late night. There wasn’t a lot of excitement in the room, at best just a kind of cheerful resignation.
We listened to everyone’s birth stories which were recounted in scary detail. There was lots of gasping and moaning at the accounts of lengths of labors, number of stitches and positions of babies on the way out. While it was educational and interesting, it was also downright terrifying, especially for someone like me who had a cesarean last time and is interested in trying natural labor this time. While the midwife reassured everyone who had been through it before that a first labor is far worse than subsequent labors, she confirmed my fears that yes, I will have to go through all that first labor stuff this time around. I definitely liked it better in the last lot of classes where we were all oblivious together.
Something that did comfort me from all this was that out of the 11 couples there were three (including me) who had cesareans last time are all planning to try a natural labor this time, meanwhile all 8 of the other couples were coming back again (some after only 12 months) despite all this excruciating-agony-of-childbirth stuff and while they seemed a little jaded there was not one single person who said “Give me a voluntary cesarean, there is NO way I am doing that again”, even from the women who visibly paled at the recollection of their own horrendous stories.
So that’s something. Isn’t it?